Digital Publishing
2 mins read

Opinion: Content recommendation in real life… what does the future hold?

It’s nothing new that the majority of people don’t like what passes for ‘content recommendation’ on a lot of sites, and recent studies have confirmed exactly that. It’s also not hard to figure out why: the irrelevance, the interruption, the lack of context…

When someone showed us ‘A conference call in real life’ recently, gently sending up the absurdity of some of our digital conventions, we thought straight away that content recommendation was something that needed the ‘IRL’ treatment too. So we made our own video.

We’re pretty sure it’ll make a few people uncomfortable because a lot of sites are using this revenue channel, even though generally they’d rather not. The reality is that people don’t like featuring these widgets, but they need the revenue. We wanted to raise a question for the industry: do we really need to do this to our audiences? Conference calls are sometimes a necessary evil, but is paid content recommendation when it’s done like this?

One of the lessons of the last few years is that doubling down on sweating single revenue channels as hard as you can doesn’t work. The Media Moments 2018 report, which WNIP produced in association with Media Voices, makes exactly this point: modern publishers and media should be looking for a ‘mix of six’ revenue streams if they want to be long-term viable. No doubt advertising has a role in that, but, as sites improve the experiences they’re offering to keep a slice of audience attention, does this tactic of fishing for clicks?

So what might the answer be? We know that paid links like the ones that the video satirises are an important source of income to many sites, but should you be bundling paid links in with real content recommendation? Perhaps that’s a part of the audience relationship that publishers and media should be looking to take back and own themselves. After all, creating great experiences that build loyalty is crucial if you want to build your ‘mix of six’, and real content recommendation can be a powerful revenue booster. Food for thought for new year’s content resolutions.

Mads Holmen, Founder and CEO, Bibblio

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